Personnel Problems May Hamper Army's Individual Ready Reserve in Wartime

FPCD-83-12: Published: Jan 31, 1983. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1983.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Kenneth J. Coffey
(202) 275-5140
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO assessed the impact of actions initiated since 1977 by Congress and the Department of Defense (DOD) on the Army's Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). GAO specified serious personnel problems with IRR and questioned the appropriateness and justification of legislative proposals submitted by DOD to the 97th Congress to increase IRR personnel strength.

IRR is a primary source of pretrained individuals which augments the Active Force and Selected Reserve Units in wartime or a national emergency. GAO found that: (1) the IRR strength of about 227,000 is less than half the strength needed to meet personnel requirements; (2) some members may not be suitable for service; and (3) the percentage of IRR members expected to report for duty upon mobilization is not based upon scientific assumptions. GAO also noted that the Army lacks current addresses on many individual IRR members. Further, individuals with critical skills are in short supply, although the Army has recently tried direct enlistment and reenlistment bonus programs, both of which have been submitted to the 97th Congress for reauthorization. To increase IRR strength levels, DOD proposed legislation to the 97th Congress to increase the total military service obligation from 6 to 8 years and, if this legislation is reintroduced into the 98th Congress and passes, it would affect the time served in the IRR. Under such circumstances, GAO believes that developing a viable refresher training program would be essential for maintaining members' skills.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD resubmitted a proposal to increase the military service obligation, but Congress did not require estimates before deciding in favor of the proposal.

    Matter: If DOD resubmits a proposal during the 98th Congress to increase the military service obligation, Congress, before deciding on the proposal, should require the Army to provide estimates of the funding required to provide the periodic training necessary for members to maintain their skills and Congress should weigh this information against the benefits of increased IRR service.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In the Authorization Act of 1984, P.L. 98-94, September 24, 1983, Congress authorized direct enlistment into the IRR Bonus Program.

    Matter: If DOD resubmits a bonus proposal during the 98th Congress for direct enlistment in IRR, Congress, before authorizing such a bonus, should require the Army to justify the proposed bonus amount for IRR reenlistments before reauthorizing a reenlistment bonus program.

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In the Authorization Act of 1984, P.L. 98-94, September 24, 1983, there is authority to conduct both direct enlistment into the IRR Bonus Program and reenlistment into the IRR Bonus Program. The Authorization bill called for a report from the Office of the Secretary of Defense on such training as identified in the recommendation.

    Matter: If DOD resubmits a bonus proposal during the 98th Congress for direct enlistment in IRR, Congress, before authorizing such a bonus, should require the Army to determine whether the training undergone by participants in the direct enlistment program is enough to maintain proficient soldiers.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should use the contacts made through the enlisted personnel management program also to emphasize to members the importance of responding to semiannual questionnaires for personnel data.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should use the periodic contacts made through the enlisted personnel management program to emphasize to members having skills required in the first 30 days of a mobilization, the importance of participating in the voluntary refresher training program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army did not concur with the recommendation. Its response stated that random sampling surveys are inappropriate instruments to measure projected availability since the responses would be purely objective. However, the Army said that it is using a model to apply actuarial type data in determining the impact on supply of the various factors involved.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should periodically survey a random sample of IRR members to obtain current and historical data (within the past 6 to 12 months) on availability. Mobilization planners should use this data in developing trends on availability and in estimating the percentage of IRR members that will report to duty when called.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of the Army officials did not concur with this recommendation. They stated that Congress has directed the Army to do what the recommendation states and it will continue to do so.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should seek authority from the House Committee on Armed Services to limit expeditious discharge program transfers to IRR to those individuals who have performed honorably.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: According to the Secretary of the Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense officials, such data is already available since yield rates are factored into the Defense Manpower Requirements Reports. However, GAO believes that the recommendation is still valid. The Defense Manpower requirements report shows aggregate figures but does not show available IRR personnel.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should disclose in IRR strength reports the numbers of members who cannot be given early wartime assignments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Army sees no useful purpose in maintaining the data as recommended. Army officials examined the possibility of getting trend data but determined that it gave no useful information. GAO believes that the recommendation is still valid. The purpose is to generate information for the Army to measure its progress in improving up-to-date member availability for mobilization.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should develop and maintain data on response rates to the semiannual questionnaire to assess whether more IRR members are responding than in the past.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 23, 2016

Sep 21, 2016

Sep 7, 2016

Aug 30, 2016

Aug 11, 2016

Jul 22, 2016

Jul 21, 2016

Jul 6, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here